Hendon’s men end 2015 with a defeat

Orient head coach Ian Hendon looks on (pic: Simon O'Connor)

Orient head coach Ian Hendon looks on (pic: Simon O'Connor) - Credit: Archant

Sky Bet League Two: Bristol Rovers 2 Leyton Orient 1

Leyton Orient finished 2015 with a frustrating defeat as they lost 2-1 to Bristol Rovers in League Two on Bank Holiday Monday.

Another Jay Simpson goal for Ian Hendon’s men ensured it was level going into half time at the Memorial Stadium.

But Rory Gaffney, who scored the opener, struck again early in the second period and it was enough to earn the Gas all three points.

The O’s only made one change to the starting team that played against Portsmouth on Boxing Day and it was enforced.

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Captain Mathieu Baudry missed out after his red card two days ago and Blair Turgott came in to replace him.

It meant Sean Clohessy, who wore the armband at Memorial Stadium, reverted back to his originally position in the back four.

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On the bench for Hendon’s team was young forward Victor Adeboyejo alongside the likes of Scott Kashket and John Marquis.

The visitors got proceedings underway and away custodian Alex Cisak was called into action after three minutes.

Billy Bodin worked the ball out wide to Jermaine Easter and his shot was tipped over the crossbar.

From the resulting corner, the O’s defended well before a Jack Payne tackle allowed Ollie Palmer to race away.

He tried to run into the opposition penalty area, but was halted in his tracks by a great tackle from Daniel Leadbitter.

The encounter had started at a frantic pace and it continued with Connor Essam struggling to deal with a high ball in the seventh minute.

Gaffney ran through towards the Orient goal, but Cole Kpekawa came across to make a fine last ditch tackle and stop the danger.

Rovers number 30 was proving to be a handful for the away defence as a intelligent pass by Stuart Sinclair released Gaffney again.

He looked to cross into strike partner Easter, but Jean-Yves M’voto cleared for a corner, which the O’s dealt with eventually.

Neither team had taken control with 20 played but it was Rovers who were looking more threatening as Bodin smashed an effort over from just outside the area after Easter had created some space.

Orient had an injury concern two minutes later when M’voto went down with an ankle problem, but fortunately he was able to continue.

The visitors had their first effort of note just before the half an hour mark when Payne’s long throw caused problems in the Gas penalty area.

Simpson controlled in the area before it came to Jobi McAnuff, but his effort went into the ground and Steve Mildenhall easily saved.

A minute later and it was the hosts who were increasing the pressure as M’voto made a vital block from Bodin.

Unfortunately that lifted the home crowd and in the 31st minute they were on their feet celebrating the opening goal of the game.

Gaffney turned Essam too easily on the edge of the area before taking his time and leaving Kpekawa and M’voto on the floor.

Essam tried to get back to block the shot, but the Rovers forward showed great composure to turn him before firing into the roof of the net.

Orient immediately looked to respond and Simpson and Bradley Pritchard linked up, but the latter’s effort lacked power.

A wonderful touch by Simpson with seven minutes left of the half gave him space and he looked to pick out Palmer.

His ball into the path of his Orient strike partner seemed perfect, but Palmer let it run and the chance was gone.

Three minutes later and another opportunity came the way of the O’s number nine, but again he wasn’t ready for it.

McAnuff’s free kick was flicked on by Essam and hit Palmer on the knee before Rovers were able to clear the danger.

It showed that the visitors could get some joy from the home back four and on the stroke of half time they managed to equalise.

A minute’s stoppage time had just been added when Clohessy cut the ball back to Turgott, he drilled into the area and Simpson was on hand to tap in.

The Orient hitman looked up sheepishly to see if the offside flag would be raised, but it wasn’t and he had his 18th goal of the campaign.

Referee Kevin Johnson blew for the interval shortly afterwards to leave the home fans disappointing that they didn’t go into the break with the lead.

Hendon introduced Frazer Shaw at the break in place of M’voto and the former West Ham United youngsters immediately won a corner kick.

Orient couldn’t make the most of that, however, and the game settled back into the even contest it was for much of the first period.

With five minutes of the second half played, a good move by the visitors saw Pritchard play in Simpson, but Mildenhall tipped over.

The O’s were beginning to get on top, but they were once again punished by Gaffney in the 53rd minute.

A long ball went over the head of Essam and Gaffney had run free, he took the effort early and smashed in via the post to put Rovers back in front.

Nerves filled the Orient players now as the Gas were lifted and simple passes by the visitors weren’t being made.

Palmer did win the visitors a free kick in a dangerous position on the hour mark, but Simpson’s shot was easily held by Mildenhall.

The O’s continued to have shots from distance, with Turgott trying his luck following Palmer’s knock down, but they weren’t testing the Rovers goalkeeper enough.

Simpson and Palmer both had shots blocked in the 68th minute before the Gas broke down the other end and Cisak saved Gaffney’s strike with his feet.

Hendon made his final roll of the dice with 17 minutes left as Marquis and Kashket were introduced for Palmer and McAnuff, who was on a yellow card.

Orient were increasing the pressure on the hosts now, but struggling to break down a compact back four.

Pritchard fired a shot over after Essam had knocked down Shaw’s free kick in the 81st minute, but no clear cut opportunities were coming for the away side.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added on come the end of the 90, but the O’s were running out of ideas.

The visitors had a corner in the final minute of stoppage time, but it came to nothing and the O’s ended the year with a defeat.

It leaves them ninth in the League Two table ahead of the trip to Stevenage on January 2.

Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Leadbitter, Brown, Lockyer, Parkes, Mansell, Easter (Taylor 67), Montano (O.Clarke 81), Bodin (J.Clarke 74), Sinclair, Gaffney.

Unused substitutes: Preston, Mcchrystal, Harrison, Gosling.

Leyton Orient: Cisak, Clohessy, M’voto (Shaw 46), Essam, Kpekawa, Turgott, Payne, Pritchard, McAnuff (Kashket 73), Palmer (Marquis 73), Simpson.

Unused substitutes: Grainger, Dunne, Moncur, Adeboyejo.

Attendance: 9,836 (487 Leyton Orient supporters).

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